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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lungu’s Immunity & HH’s Delicate Balancing Act

Columns Lungu’s Immunity & HH’s Delicate Balancing Act

By Chimwemwe Mwanza

To lift or not to? It’s a question that’s captivated the political landscape since the change of the presidential guard and civil society, political pundits including lawyers alike have been discussing this matter ad infinitum.

For starters, Zambia like many democracies’ world oversubscribes to the principle that every citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty or otherwise by a court of law. It’s on record that there is currently no case or investigation against former President Edgar Lungu – at least in the public domain for crimes he may have committed during his Presidency. What then is motivating calls for his immunity to be lifted? It’s a difficult ask and off course, answers may vary depending on one’s political affiliation.

Is it even necessary that parliament should consider taking this route should Lungu be found wanting? “We will cross the bridge when we get there,” remarked President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) when asked about this niggling matter during his recent press briefing. This response is a remarkable departure from the conciliatory speech he gave soon after he was declared winner of the 2021 Presidential elections.

Even though the then President-elect extended a gesture of goodwill to the former President, he didn’t directly broach the issue of Lungu’s, immunity. However, the undertones in his remarks somewhat gave a vague assurance that Lungu will be left in peace to enjoy his retirement. This seems unlikely.

Fast forward: While President Hichilema deftly dodged the simplest question at the briefing, he in the process gave the nation a glimpse into his mindset regarding Lungu’s future. “Now that I have the privilege of knowing what I know, I would like to warn you Zambians to be very careful of the people you elect as leaders,” Granted that HH now has the intelligence apparatus in his corner, the inference to this statement is that there might be a few but serious questions that Lungu requires to answer hence HH couldn’t be definitive on safeguarding Lungu’s immunity.

What does the future hold for Lungu then? Only time will tell, for now he remains on HH’s leash. Interestingly, Sesheke UPND Member of Parliament, Romeo Kangombe’s recent vow to table a parliamentary motion to lift Lungu’s immunity adds a different twist to this matter altogether. While his pronouncement smacks of misplaced bravado – because only the President can do that, Kangombe let slip what could be loud whispers doing the rounds in his party regarding the former President’s immunity. With or without evidence of wrongdoing, it seems that the UPND’s desire to force the former President to account for his reign is a foregone conclusion and all that this process is waiting to play out is some fuel and a matchstick.

Blame it on deeply flawed precedence set by former President Levy Mwanawasa (MHSRIP), there is almost an ingrained expectation in Zambia’s political psyche requiring that every immediate past president be dragged before courts to account for their reign. This is a dangerous vicious cycle and parliament ought to somehow put a stop to this madness and safeguard the office of the immediate past President. For clarity, this in no way implies that rogues be shielded from accountability but strengthening legislative oversight on the office of the sitting President is simply one of the many proposals for consideration.

HH’s delicate balancing act

How times have changed. Who could have predicted that Lungu’s future will someday be determined by a person that he once locked up on a trumped-up treason charge; here is a true-life lesson unfolding right before the country? While he has tried to conceal his anger regarding his incarceration – this despite his repeated calls to let the sleeping dogs lie, HH is still bitter about this experience.

The fact that HH kept whistling at sleeping beasts whilst asking others to stop as exemplified in the subtle reminder of the 15 times that he was thrown in jail, underscores this point. Visibly irritated, he yet again reminded the audience gathered at his presser. “As if this was not enough, they threatened to take me back to prison after elections.” While not every politician is as forgiving as Nelson Mandela, the President can’t have it both ways; he should either forgive and move on or at worst launch an open political warfare against his political opponents.

It’s in fact worrying that he chose to use the presser to send a chilling warning to the PF asking its leadership and its members to behave.

Question is, what did the PF do wrong to warrant his threat? This too, he couldn’t elaborate. This begs yet another question? Is it inimical for a defeated political party to regroup? So goes a Ngoni axiom, ndale zibala mkangano – loosely translated as politics do give birth to contestation. Unless the PF is engaged in subversions only known to the President and the intelligence community, it’s fair to suggest that the PF’s criticism of the UPND government has thus far been within prescripts of the constitution.

Fight against corruption

Whispers in corridors of power suggest that several former cabinet ministers are under investigations for various offences committed during PF’s tenure in office. Now, this poses a challenge to the new government’s fight against graft.

Notwithstanding the fact that the PF and its former leaders must account for wrongdoing, UPND should guard against perpetuating the notion that it’s using state institutions and its newly acquired position of strength to decimate the opposition. And how HH manages to navigate this challenge will shape his Presidency. While true that the PF leadership stepped on so many toes, it’s important to draw a distinction between personal differences among warring politicians and crimes politicians may have committed against the state.

While the new dawn which HH espouses is anchored in a departure from the past, the wanton dismissals from government of individuals – simply for having worn PF regalia ages back does not bode well for reconciliation. It’s indisputable that that the culture at the time called for subserviency to rulers of the day and cadreism was an easy ladder to career development.

As such, retribution and vindictiveness will not move the country forward – Zambia does not require a politically toxic environment but positive investor sentiment that will project the country as the perfect destination for Foreign Direct Investment in the region.
The President needs to reign in on this vindictive vice otherwise the country risks sliding back into the much-hated cadre mentality. This includes how he will manage Lungu’s immunity poser.

About the author: He is an avid reader of political history and philosophy. The only thing he supports is Kabwe Warriors and Liverpool. What a gem of a goal from Mo Salah over the weekend, he had no right gliding past Man City defenders in that manner. For feedback, contact: [email protected]

40 COMMENTS

  1. The writer needs help. It seems he has a troubled relationship with facts. He wants Edgar Lungu to be forgiven, but this begs the question to be forgiven of wht exactly? How do u forgive a crime u don’t know? Aren’t there sufficient grounds for suspicion of wrongdoing by Edgar Lungu? How do yesterday’s paupers suddenly become stinking rich while real businesses are struggling with debt? Wht’s the Auditor-General reporting?

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  2. Lungu’s immunity should be lifted to explain his eSwatini mansion and the secret Chinese debt recently revealed.

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  3. Let us lift immunity when there is evidence. Let us not loss another 10 years trailing former president over non issues like Mwanawasa did. Instead enrich the lawyers

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  4. Nothing would come out this. There is no. Hh has nothing and he is playing propaganda.
    Propaganda is any device, plan, or method by which people can be influenced without knowing that they are being influenced or the source of influence. Propaganda has existed as a method for any leaders or corporations to gain influence.
    Leaders such as Adolf Hitler and people who inspired many such as Mahatma Gandhi used a certain concept as a message for their followers to employ in their lives.

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  5. This stupid writer seems to be a relative to a murderer lungu and a foolish sympathiser who does not care about what his fellow pigs did to the Zambian people. Tell your lungu and every stupid accomplice to your lungu that we are coming for you more especially kampyongo.

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  6. Chimwemwe, you missing the point. Firstly HH’s mandate is from WE the people. We elected him to pursue the corruption agenda & bring back our monies. If ECL was involved, he will be a collateral damage. That’s not HH’s vindictiveness.
    Secondly you being unfair to expect HH to go mute about being wrongly jailed 15 times. Everyone need to be reminded that we should never ever have to be in that horrible space where we have leaders that abuse power. It’s easy for you Chimwemwe to simply brush aside HH’s experience in the comfort of your arm chair criticism. HH lived the bad experience which he keeps reminding everyone that no one has to ever go through that nonsense again. Is that too much to ask??

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  7. “Propaganda is used in business for purposes of discouraging competition. Employers use it to gain advantage over employees. Employee use it reiterate by using it to gain advantage over their employers. In fact it is used to universallyand through such a smooth and beautiful streamlined technique that it looks harmless even when it is detected” Napoleon Hill ~ Outwitting the devil.
    Propagandists use it in the form of strong words such as “faith”, “independence”, “freedom or Civil liberties ”, “Servant leadership”, “pride”, and even “peace”.

  8. Just the $2.3 million lungu earned after 18 months in office is enough to kick-start the process ………..

    Investigative wings are finding to hard to move investigations on theft of public funds forward , as the suspects keep saying ask the president………..

    There is no other way to get to the bottom of all the corruption scandals without lifting lungus immunity……..

    We warn HEHH to not stand in the way of lifting lungus immunity………

    If lungu has not stolen , it will be proven…….

    You can not fight corruption with so many corruption questions hanging over the nation………

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  9. If lungu has stolen , he must face the music like everyone else , ………

    Why should theives be protected by immunity ?………

    If he is not a theif who has stolen from the Zambian people , he will enjoy his retirement……….

    The majority of Zambians want to know if lungu was involved in corruption…….that is why they voted him out…….

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  10. For Bally to move the motion to lift Lungu’s immunity he must fullfil one requirement and that’s the establishment of a prima facie case against his predecessor. Anything below that is mere politics

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  11. It’s the reason Zambia is going nowhere. First of all its Judiciary is rotten but this doesn’t bother the people at all. Stealing public resources doesn’t bother Zambians either. The only time Zambians will wake up is whn the country teeters dangerously close to being a failed state.

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  12. It’s seems you all missed the most important point of HH
    The gulf stream plane issue will be taken to carbinate for discussion. What do you think they will discuss? The lifting of immunity. They will then take it to parliament.
    Game over

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  13. And I quote “ next time be careful of the presidents you elect”

    Asked about immunity “we will cross the bridge when we get there”

    Game over

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  14. Even interesting is how much Lungu declared as his assets in 2021. If he made $2.3 m after 18 months in office

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  15. We tired of these useless articles by chaps that want rebrand themselves…we want articles talking about way forward. President already made it clear on this issue

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  16. @12 If you are tired of such” useless” articles please do the honorable thing by skipping them and making no comment, after all it’s a democracy! By the way there are those of us who enjoy reading these intellectual articles

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  17. Yup, it’s a difficult balancing act for Mr Hichilema. And the worst bit is that some of the UPND rank & file are out for revenge. The trouble with tit-for-tat, is that, it sets a bad precedent very difficult to break.

    The UPND government has to realise that not everyone who wore PF regalia was a staunch supporter. I think for some, it was survival mode – dress up and appear to be supportive, otherwise you didn’t have perks! But when it came to voting – they exercised their free will and chose what they really wanted. So, imagine the error you might be making by victimising those who probably helped your win!

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  18. 1. Indeed like the author has stated. Its Balancing Act. People voted out Lungu or PF mostly not because of the corruption that has been perceived. Though it’s part of it. If you go to the rural areas, in big town and ask the youth why they came out in numbers, the Statistical Data indicates that it was Lack-of-Jobs and The Cost-of Living. Its as simple as that.

    HH must not lose focus on the mission to create jobs for the youth. He has promised big to the youth. And it takes time to give the youth skills they need and create jobs that thy can take. Lack of training will mean that the youth will end up doing piece works here and there without long term stability. Its not an easy job for HH. It will need everyone to work hard. Government & Private Sector.

  19. 2. Five years from now, the youth will not be asking HH that – why did you not lock up Lungu? They will be asking HH that – Bally where are the jobs you promised us? You failed us just like the man you said he was a useless president. Even the youth in HH’s strong-base will turn against him if he does not create jobs.

    HH may have a will to table the motion to strip Lungu the Immunity, but if he has no clear-cut case, he will just be using it as political capital.

  20. On the gulf steam and its sale…well NO one will pay the actual value for the aircraft…so its a no brainer..further if the reason for desire to sell is that it was over priced or indeed the value was not the purcahse price..well we all know the numerous roads and infrastructure were all inflated..so maybe lets start by demolishing all those roads and buildings…you DONT run a country like that….should ECL immunty be lifted…nope lets go forwards those caught will face the music….they have NO immunity only the President does…

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  21. 2. Five years from now, the youth will not be asking HH that – why did you not lock up Lungu? They will be asking HH that – Bally where are the jobs you promised us? You failed us just like the man you said he was a useless president. Even the youth in HH’s strong-base will turn against him if he does not create jobs

    HH may have a will to table the motion to strip Lungu the Immunity, but if he has no clear-cut case, he will just be using it as political capital.

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  22. 3. They accused former First Lady, Thandiwe Chilongo Banda that she had stolen K8 Billion and built Hotels in Malawi & Kenya. Zambians believed it. And it turned out to be a blatant lie and just character assassination. In the end she sued Times of Zambia & GRZ and won a K2 Billion Compensation. It was HH who turned up at courts to support RB and Wife on trumped up charges.

    The corruption song is mostly coming from people who have an open eye about white collar corruption, then amplify it in the media. There is no doubt funds were misused. All what we know are stories flying up and down about Lungu having stolen the money. PF is no longer in power and if UPND have evidence then they should say so. Courts want evidence not assumptions.

  23. Lift lungus immunity ASAP…………

    Even HEHH and any further president should know if he messes with public funds and abuses office like lungu , he/her too will have their immunity lifted…….

    Apart from $2.3 millio lungu earned after 18 months in office , as the engineer rightly says above , that gulfstream jet is a hot potatoe for lungu……

    It was here on LT i was saying zambia was overcharged for that plane , where figures of $68 million are mentioned,………

    Some thought I did not know what I was talking about ……….

    them saying it was $10 to $30 million …………?????……..wrong.

    We will be vindicated………

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  24. We can’t say to HEHH don’t worry about reforming the police, ACC or DEC to be more effective because you promised more jobs , so focus on delivering more jobs …..

    A country doesn’t run on one dimension…….

    We grow the economy , create more jobs , At the same time fight crime and corruption …….. .

    And if all the suspects are telling investigators to ask lungu , or implying that the buck stops at lungu , that is were we will go……..

  25. Let us not judge Lungu and PF but let the rule of law take its cause. the Bible says judge not why because the same measure you use for others that’s the measure will be used unto you. inciting president HH to use his powers to do want the people want may be wrong because many people do not know how the law work when lifting the immunity of the former president. we want to wait so that HH can work without any influence from any one. two wrong cannot make a rite. let us love them even when they wronged us for many year. Lastly we need to trust our court. HH will fix it

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  26. @18
    The gulf stream will not be sold. No one can pay the price at which Mr Lungu paid. It will be used to send him to jail

    Like the American say “follow the money”

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  27. Independent Observer 17#, 19# 20#

    M* F**KA & MAKAKA! OK, You have made your ka $50 Million working Goldman Sachs Investment Banking, Hedge Funds and
    sold your online company for millions. Lungu may just need you to pay for his lawyers because even that $2m he stole will not
    be enough for his lawyers to rescue him.
    Yourself DÉJÀ VU and SALOUSI and the rest of the pigs and rats should Just Should The F**K UP

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  28. SPAKA

    From the article and all the comments above no has said DEC and Police should not be reformed. You are the only one who appears to lose track all the time. What are you talking about? The subject is about keeping the balance without HH concentrating on one thing such as going after Lungu. Dont act with emotions – just think through.

  29. We must understand that corruption and looting at high office is a death sentence to thousands of vaunrable Zambians………

    It is a sentence to perpetual poverty for thousands of our people ……….

    Money meant for medicines, doctors , growing the economy and education is diverted to individuals pockets by way of commissions on over inflated GRZ purchases……

    Those elected to high office must be made to fear corruption, abuse of office and looting……..

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  30. #27  Moonga 
    October 5, 2021 At 12:56 pm

    ” SPAKA

    From the article and all the comments above no has said DEC and Police should not be reformed. You are the only one who appears to lose track all the time. What are you talking about? The subject is about keeping the balance without HH concentrating on one thing such as going after Lungu. Dont act with emotions – just think through…”

    My post #22 you are referring to is giving an example of other things that need doing like reforming investigative wings that are underway right now ……….

    we can’t say for get about everything else and concentrate on providing jobs as the article suggests and some bloggers are suggesting………

    A country is not run just acting on election promises,

    Jobs, the economy , fighting…

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  31. #27  Moonga 
    October 5, 2021 At 12:56 pm

    A country is not run just acting on election promises,

    Jobs, the economy , fighting corruption , investigating PF abuses , all can be done in the first term…….

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  32. Don’t bother lifting ECL’s immunity if you cant arrest and convict his technocrats. The only time it will make sense to lift his immunity is after a number of people that worked under him are arrested and successfully convicted in a court of law, otherwise it will be a waste of time and money. At the moment our law enforcement agencies are struggling to arrest a girl caught red handed with bundles of suspicious cash, now imagine these same guys going after a former President ?

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  33. #34  Mulenga Tembo 
    October 5, 2021 At 2:01 pm

    “Don’t bother lifting ECL’s immunity if you cant arrest and convict his technocrats. The only time it will make sense to lift his immunity is after a number of people that worked under him are arrested and successfully convicted in a court of law, otherwise it will be a waste of time and money. At the moment our law enforcement agencies are struggling to arrest a girl caught red handed with bundles of suspicious cash, now imagine these same guys going after a former President ?..”

     The problem is that all suspects questioned are saying the buck stops at lungu………

    Ask the former president is what they are saying………

  34. Future Zambia @26

    1. I don’t come to Lusakatimes to comment and compete or square up with other bloggers. Rather to share my views, listen and learn from others, regardless if one is PF, MMD or UPND, etc. If someone does not agree with me it’s fine. By the way, I am not PF and have never met or communicated with Lungu.


    As for you, it just appears like I have been living in your head rent free for long while. The sooner you evict me from your mind the better for you. I don’t respond to insults. I am above that level. I am unshakable from such attacks. It does not matter how many times you turn up and insult me. And you have done this a couple of times.

  35. Future Zambia @26

    2. Using you trait, you won’t pick up a fight with me. And the boomerang will keep coming back to you, as every day you get more and more angry. But I can school you on one or two things. What a loss of life from you to live with such venom.

    I would rather use and direct my energy for something worthwhile such as acquire wisdom, knowledge or create wealth and use it to help and support another human being to achieve their dreams, such as the many homeless kids we see in the streets of Lusaka every time I fly into Zambia who need our united support as a nation, or contribute to Zambia in any way or format. HH on his own wont cannot do it. So do your part to take Zambia forward.

    ENJOY THE DAY & GOOD LUCK

  36. ECL refused to handover power to the speaker of the national assembly, during the presidential election petition. Is this not one big case among many to lift his immunity since he breached the supreme law of the land, the constitution of Zambia.

  37. #29 Zambia Today have you run out of ideas that you can resort to insulting people expressing their operations. Didn’t people remove the PF for among many reasons because it was perceived as suppressing freedom of expression?

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